Sunday, September 26, 2010

Autumn is Finally Here

That's right! The Philadelphia area's finally getting into the 80s (F) with some reliability - yesterday was 89 and today almost got to 80. Maybe the cooling will have some effect on the area's drivers, who have been demonstrating wild and reckless stupidity (at least, on the roads that I travel) for the last six to eight months. I doubt it though: given the economy, there has to be at least one occupation that's looking for more workers - the auto-repair business! Honestly, though, I get the impression that about 50% of the drivers here only have intact cars because they've sold their souls to the devil in exchange for a crash-free life!

[Food]
We'll be having guests soon and one of them is a vegetarian, so that takes a little thought - she's not vegan, but I don't think that it's fair to offer a dish made with vegetables fried in meat fat, for example! So, one possibility is going to be cheese tortellini in tomato sauce ... and who knows what goes into the tomato sauces you get at the store. Hence you'd have found me yesterday afternoon slaving over a huge pot of bubbling redness.

It turned out really easy to make: just get two 3 lb boxes of tomatoes from BJs, chop them up, and dump them into a really large cooking casserole - I used one from IKEA that's oven-proof as well as for the stove-top, and non-stick into the bargain. It holds about 5 litres, and ended up about 80% full!

In with the tomatoes goes about quarter of a litre of water and half that of olive oil. Three heaped teaspoons of chopped garlic from a jar of the stuff in oil (BJs again!), and two very heaped teaspoons of chopped dry Basil (sorry mum - I just didn't have any fresh!). If it's destined for kids, a little sugar (a soup spoon or two) will make a lot of difference to the sweetness (so don't go overboard, or you'll be having it with ice cream!)

All this just about fits into the casserole, so fine! Turn on the heat, pop on the lid, and get it to the boil. Once it's there, lower the heat pretty much as low as it will go and let it simmer for about 45 minutes. After that, take your trusty stick blender and totally obliterate any lumps of any sort. Then you can let it cool off, put it into food savers, and keep it in the fridge - up to a week is safe. For longer than that it should freeze fine.

Oh! You don't have a stick blender? Well, aside from making off with granny's, you can part with about $25-$30 for on in most shops, although they do come more expensive. I don't see why, as all they are is a miniaturised outboard motor, but what do I know? In fact, if you're really in need, and really want to make sure that you never ever, ever have to buy another on (and probably your great great grand-children won't, either!), you can go to MyChefStore and splurge on a RoboCoupe MP450 Turbo model. They tag it with a "Lowest Price Guarantee", but I can't see anyone willing to shell out $572.42 as being unduly worried about another dollar or three! It boasts 3/4 of a kilowatt of power and a maximum speed of 12,000 rpm, so I'd keep it securely under lock and key if your other half is doing anything like mixing concrete (not that the concrete would have an ice-cube's chance in hell against this beast!) By the way, I would have added a picture, but Chrome 5.0.375.127 (55887) for Ubuntu 10.04 doesn't seem to get on too well with BlogSpot, for uploading images.

[Tech]
Pet peeve of the week. Companies that think that they're really "with it", but don't test their stuff properly before pushing it out, and don't offer enough support when the inevitable happens. I'll not name names, but a company should, in my opinion, use a technology like Flash on a site where its new recruits are required to log in and fill in information about themselves, etc. Adobe aficionados will immediately rise up and threaten to stone me but it remains a fact that, so far, the maker of the most popular hand-held sate-form computing device, the iPad, still does not support Flash. Many many young people use iPads as their primary computing devices - and why not? Anyhow, I recently saw a site, obligatory for new recruits, when Flash was used throughout. One or two of the links to other pages worked fine, but ..... most didn't come up as links at all, and the page as a whole was very slow to load. On a 2 GHz machine with plenty of memory and a good high-speed connection it took over four minutes to load when the user tried - as suggested by the support people - to use MS IE!

Guys! Testing is everything! You can have the most wonderful product out there, but if people can't get it to work then it isn't just useless - it's actively promoting your bad name!
TTFN

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